Blog: Do You Love Your City Enough To Let Go Of Your Church?
I was raised with this idea that if we got enough people “saved” and grew our church really big we would change our city. It isn’t true. It hasn’t happened. So the answer would be to start several mega or giga churches in an area and that will do it – right? Where I pastor – within 10 miles of me there are 3 giga churches of 10,000 or more and at least 15 churches of 2000 or more that I can count sitting here at my desk. Our city is not changed. I take that personally.
For all the mega and giga churches we have today our cities are being impacted more by popular culture than the church. I’m happy these churches – us being one – are growing and reaching people, but we have confused “worship services” with how the gospel (Jesus) or I should say Jesus (the gospel) impacts a city. By the way I just read a stat that new members from evangelism make up only 1.8% of the membership of these churches. That’s a huge message in and of itself. Why are we doing church? Everyone is talking about what and how, but few why – how do you answer the why and then respond?
Some things I’ve come to learn working with the global church and then contextualizing it – other things I’m still not sure about. BUT, how we learn and process is more important than what we do! WHY? is the big question. When I first began training young pastors 20 years ago I said that three questions are important. What? – is what you do. How? – is the methodology behind it. But WHY? is most critical. Those who can answer why will do more to determine what and how than any other group even if that’s not their focus! I just saw a TED talk by Simon Sinek on that and it was really good.
For me, that “Why?” is centered in the Kingdom being here and now and the understanding of salvation as being not just getting me to heaven, but seeing God’s will and love seen in this earth. It’s about him transforming me and every nook and cranny of the city and the world. When I began to connect with global pastors, they helped me think even deeper of the “Why?”. If you get the “Why?” the What? and How? are far easier to determine – if not blaringly obvious.
The best learning is done in community with a small group of leaders that share the same why, but different context. When that happens the learning goes exponential. I think we have to look deep within ourselves to answer the why question – but I also believe we have to listen to others as well that come at that why question from different angles. Especially those of us who are followers of Jesus, we are called the “body of Christ” and the idea is that Jesus is the head, and the body has all that it needs to accomplish all that Jesus has called us to.
At GLOCAL.NET we bring people together in small communities to learn from one another. Generally, I’ll convene pastors from a city or from nations – or even non-Christians and give some parameters and teach some, along with Omar Reyes. Tom McGehee, a top world class facilitation expert (he set up the learning communities’ process that Leadership Network now uses) will focus on collaborative learning in groups that moves conversation to results. Each of us share what we’re learning and each in the group asks questions and challenges. It’s nothing less than the global body of Christ speaking into itself!
In my early days books and conferences were how I grew – then it hit me, if I had the books of the speakers at a conference, I really didn’t need the conference. Conferences have their place – we need them – but they will never be primary learning centers. They will stimulate thought, provide models, build some connections – but they are not places of deep learning in and of themselves.
GLOCAL.NET has different kinds of communities: multifaith – where we bring Christians and people of other faiths together to serve the city, city engagement – where we bring churches and/or Christians along with community leaders together to study the city and begin to help churches engage their city through domains. If you don’t know what I mean by domains watch the video on our web-site. A domain is simply the infrastructure that a city is built on: economics, education, health, communication, agriculture, civil society, etc.,
Here’s where it really gets fun – not just the leader is asking the why question. In the church, everyone has a why – they’re not just waiting for what. How is simply how – no big deal once the why is answered. Why am I here? Isn’t there a bigger purpose for me than what I see? The answer is YES! If we can help everyday followers of Jesus answer that why question, then our job is to equip, encourage, facilitate, and then release them into the city. Why did Jesus leave us on earth if it’s only about “going to heaven”? Well, it isn’t about just going to heaven – it’s about glorifying him and allowing the transformative power of Jesus to touch lives and cities.
Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to him all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death. . .” That’s why we are here – all things, all people for our God to transform through us being his agents.
PASTOR – LOOSE ‘EM, AND LET ‘EM GO! Glocal.net would love to help you and your church, or network of churches engage your city, the world, and people of other faiths – contact Tom McGehee here.
Bob is the founder, senior leader, and chief spokesman for Glocal.net . His primary focus is to connect leaders and estabish relationships to explore transformation. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobrobertsjr.